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Non-traditional Families: Books For Kids

This list of the best kids books about non-traditional families is sure to include a new favorite for the voracious young reader in your life! From Daddy Honk Honk! to Beyond the Green there's something here for everyone's tastes. Do you have a favorite book about non-traditional families? Let us know!

Daddy Honk Honk! book
#1
Daddy Honk Honk!
Written and illustrated by Rosalinde Bonnet
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

An arctic fox adopts a baby goose in this heartwarming read-aloud perfect for dads and their little ones When Aput the fox finds an abandoned goose egg, he has no idea what’s in store for him. He doesn’t know anything about babies and he certainly doesn’t know what to do when the gosling hatches and mistakes him for its daddy. So he decides to find the gosling a home. But with each page turn, Aput learns more about caring for a baby and, with a little help from his friends, he discovers what a baby needs most is love.

Pup and Bear book
#2
Pup and Bear
Written by Kate Banks and illustrated by Naoko Stoop
picture book
Recommend Ages: 2-7

This deeply emotional read-aloud about a lost wolf pup who is raised by a loving polar bear is sure to resonate with families - particularly non-traditional ones. You are not my mother, said the wolf pup. I am not your mother, said the polar bear, but I can cuddle you and keep you safe. Here is a picture book that celebrates differences and promotes kindness, sure to resonate with the many fans of the beloved classic, Mama Do You Love Me? During the ice melt that follows an Arctic winter, a wolf cub finds himself spinning out to sea on a sheet of ice. He awakes lost and alone to an unfamiliar smell: a polar bear. And while the polar bear is not the wolf's mother, she takes him on her back to her den, where she feeds him, keeps him warm, and does everything a mother would do. Time passes, the cub grows into a wolf, and soon it's time for him to venture out into the wide world alone. Years later, the now grown wolf comes upon a tiny lost polar bear cub--and the cycle begins again. With poetic prose this beautiful picture book about the love and kindness of a stranger is sure to touch a deep chord, particularly with parents and children who have found each other in unexpected ways.

When I Grow Up book
#3
When I Grow Up
Written and illustrated by Paula Vasquez
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

What is your family like? All of the children in Miss Ester’s class know what they want to be like when they grow up: their families! And each family is special and unique. Readers will be surprised and delighted to find that Johnny the duckling’s mom and dad have curly tails, stubby noses, and hooves. Johnny and his classmates make it easy for parents to show their little ones that there are many types of families, and they’re all made of love. Paula Vásquez’s fun illustrations and sweet writing style make this unique family story a must-have.

And Tango Makes Three book
#4
And Tango Makes Three
Written by Peter Parnell, Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole
board book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The heartwarming true story of two penguins who create a nontraditional family is now available in a sturdy board book edition. At the penguin house at the Central Park Zoo, two penguins named Roy and Silo were a little bit different from the others. But their desire for a family was the same. And with the help of a kindly zookeeper, Roy and Silo got the chance to welcome a baby penguin of their very own.

Harriet Gets Carried Away book
#5
Harriet Gets Carried Away
Written and illustrated by Jessie Sima
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

While shopping with her two dads for supplies for her birthday party, Harriet, who is wearing a penguin costume, is carried away by a waddle of penguins and must hatch a plan in order to get herself back to the store in the city.

  1. Love Makes a Family - This fun, inclusive board book celebrates the one thing that makes every family a family . . . and that’s LOVE. Love is baking a special cake. Love is lending a helping hand. Love is reading one more book. In this exuberant board book, many different families are shown in happy activity, from an early-morning wake-up to a kiss before bed. Whether a child has two moms, two dads, one parent, or one of each, this simple preschool read-aloud demonstrates that what’s most important in each family’s life is the love the family members share.

  2. Apple Pie Promises - Lily has lived with her mom since her parents got divorced several years ago, and her dad has recently remarried to a woman with a daughter her age named Hannah. But now, Lily's mom has gotten a once-in-a-lifetime work opportunity in Morocco and will be gone for a year, so Lily is moving in with her dad--and new stepmom and stepsister. It'll be as easy as apple pie, right?

  3. Stonewall - Celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising with the very first picture book to tell of its historic and inspiring role in the gay civil rights movement. From Rob Sanders, author of the acclaimed Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag, comes this powerful and timeless true story that will allow young readers to discover the rich and dynamic history of the Stonewall Inn and its role in the gay civil rights movement--a movement that continues to this very day. In the early-morning hours of June 28, 1969, the Stonewall Inn was raided by police in New York City. Though the inn had been raided before, that night would be different. It would be the night when empowered members of the LGBTQ+ community--in and around the Stonewall Inn--began to protest and demand their equal rights as citizens of the United States. Movingly narrated by the Stonewall Inn itself, and featuring stirring and dynamic illustrations, Stonewall: A Building. An Uprising. A Revolution is an essential and empowering civil rights story that every child deserves to hear.

  4. Wild Things - Stubborn, self-reliant eleven-year-old Zoe, recently orphaned, is forced to move to the country to live with her strange and bad-tempered uncle. Zoe could care less that he's a famous doctor and sculptor. All she knows is that he is impossible to understand. The only interesting thing on the farm is a feral cat who won't let Zoe near. Together, Zoe and her uncle learn about trust and the strength of family ties. In this moving coming-of-age novel, Zoe comes to understand what it means to love and be loved, uncovers a long-kept secret, and finds family where she least expects it. Includes an interview with the author and a reading group guide. Named ALA Notable Children's Book Award; Bank Street College of Education Best Children's books of the Year; NCTE Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts; Kirkus Reviews Best Children's Book.

Ella Unleashed book
#10
Ella Unleashed
Written by Alison Cherry
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The Parent Trap meets Best in Show in this charming novel about a girl who must learn to make peace with the unpredictability of life. Ella Cohen was skeptical when her mom started dating Krishnan just a few months after her parents’ divorce. But two years later, she really likes having her new stepfather around. When she decides to enter a junior dog show, Krishnan even lets her start handling his dog, Elvis. She’s determined to become an expert handler, even after her first show ends in disaster. Unfortunately, some things are harder to control—like Ella’s dad, who has changed a lot since the divorce. He used to be laid back and fun, but now he hovers over her constantly, terrified she’s going to shatter into a million pieces if she so much as hints that everything in her life isn’t perfect. Ella is particularly upset that his animosity toward Krishnan keeps him from coming to watch her handle Elvis, especially when she wins a lottery spot in the National Dog Show in Philadelphia. When Ella’s best friends suggest she find her dad a date to the dog show, it seems like the perfect solution. If her dad has a new girlfriend, surely he won’t mind so much that Ella’s mom has a new husband. So Ella decides to play matchmaker, going so far as to create a fake online dating profile in order to find her dad his one true love. But it turns out people, much like dogs, aren’t always so easy to control, and Ella’s plan backfires at the worst possible moment. Can Ella manage to bring her divided life together in time for her moment in the spotlight?

My Two Dads and Me book
#11
My Two Dads and Me
Written by Michael Joosten and illustrated by Izak Zenou
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

An adorable board book for the babies and toddlers of gay fathers, featuring a variety of diverse loving families with two dads. Families with same-sex parents are celebrated in this board book that follows busy dads and their kids throughout their day--eating breakfast, getting dressed, heading out to the park, and settling back in at night with a bubble bath and a good-night lullaby. LGBTQ+ parents and their friends and families will welcome this diverse and cheerful book that reflects their own lives and family makeup. It's an ideal baby-shower and first-birthday gift in a children's book market where gay parents are still greatly underrepresented. With artwork by acclaimed and much-followed fashion illustrator Izak Zenou, this is a stylish, smart, humorous, family-focused book that will have babies and their two dads giggling as they enjoy it together. And look for its companion board book, My Two Moms and Me.

You Look Yummy! book
#12
You Look Yummy!
Written and illustrated by Tatsuya Miyanishi
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

This sweet tale about the love between father and son is the first in a tremendously popular Tyrannosaurus series in 12 titles to date, with combined sales in excess of 3 million copies in Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan and France. A long, long time ago, a baby Ankylosaurus is born on a volcano erupting ground. As the little Ankylosaurus begins wandering around, a big Tyrannosaurus comes along. He is about to pounce when the baby cries out, "Daddy!" and grabs onto his leg. The baby thinks the Tyrannosaurus is his father, so as not to disappoint the little one, he takes on the task of raising a baby Ankylosaur. The two develop ever stronger bonds of love, but soon comes the day when they must part. Highlighting the importance of family, this sweet picture book celebrates the love between father and son.

The Ring Bearer book
#13
The Ring Bearer
Written and illustrated by Floyd Cooper
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Mama’s getting married, and Jackson has an important job to do! A story about love, weddings, and the special joy that is a blended family. Jackson’s mama is getting married, and he gets to be the ring bearer. But Jackson is worried . . . What if he trips? Or walks too slowly? Or drops the rings? And what about his new stepsister, Sophie? She’s supposed to be the flower girl, but Jackson’s not sure she’s taking her job as seriously as she should. In a celebration of blended families, this heartwarming story, stunningly illustrated by the award-winning Floyd Cooper, is a perfect gift for any child who’s nervous to walk down the aisle at a wedding, and shows kids that they can handle life’s big changes.

My Two Moms and Me book
#14
My Two Moms and Me
Written by Michael Joosten and illustrated by Izak Zenou
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

An adorable board book for the babies and toddlers of lesbian mothers, featuring a variety of diverse loving families with two moms. Families with same-sex parents are celebrated in this board book that follows busy moms and their kids throughout their day--eating breakfast, going on a playdate, heading to the pool for a swim, and settling back in at night with a bedtime story and a good-night lullaby. LGBTQ+ parents and their friends and families will welcome this diverse and cheerful book that reflects their own lives and family makeup. It's an ideal baby-shower and first-birthday gift in a children's book market where gay parents are still greatly underrepresented. With artwork by acclaimed and much-followed fashion illustrator Izak Zenou, this is a stylish, smart, humorous, family-focused book that will have babies and their two moms giggling as they enjoy it together. And look for its companion board book, My Two Dads and Me.

  1. Yes We Are - A boy confides in a friend that he doesn t know what to say when he's teased for having two dads, and when kids say that they're not a real family. In their conversation, his friend helps him see how her family (with a mom and a dad) isn't all that different from his: they both have parents who love them, and they both love their parents. And it's love that makes a family.

  2. Beyond the Green - "After twelve-year-old Britta's family fostered Chipeta, a Native American baby, for four years, Chipeta's birth mother has the right to take her back. In 1979 Utah, Britta can't imagine life without her beloved little sister, and so she grows determined to do whatever she can to keep her sister and to eventually understand how complicated and important family is--in all its forms"--

Did you enjoy our children's book recommendations? Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!